The Ibis, the Sacred Bird of Ancient Egypt

Ibises near a marsh

It is no secret that the ibis was highly regarded in Ancient Egypt. It was seen as a sacred bird, and the embodiment of Djehuty or Thoth, the god of wisdom, the scribe of the gods and inventor of writing and Egyptian hieroglyphs; he was depicted with the head of an ibis. The bird has been painted on murals, and often been found mummified in tombs. However, the Sacred Ibis has been extinct in Egypt for over a hundred years and can now be found throughout the Ethiopian region, in marshes, swamps, pasture lands, and more (Experts crack mystery of ancient Egypt’s sacred bird mummies). Apart from Thoth being a scribe to the gods in Egyptian mythology, he was also represented as a baboon, Aani, the god of equilibrium, in

Djehuty or Thoth in his form as an ibis-headed man

the underworldDuat, who reported when the scales weighing the deceased’s heart against the feather, representing the principle of Maat, was exactly even. As Thoth, he is credited with making the calculations for the establishment of the heavens, stars, Earth, and everything in them. For ancient Egyptians, he is attributed as the author of all works of science, religion, philosophy, and magic; while ancient Greeks further credited him as the author of every work of every branch of knowledge, human and divine. The Sacred Ibis, from its scientific name Threskiornis aethiopica has white plumage and dark feathers on its lower back; at 30 inches long, it is a striking bird found near marshes, swamps, pasture land, and flood plains in the Ethiopian region.

Ibises and a crocodile

The Hadada Ibis, also known by its scientific name as Bostrychia hagedash is common in East Africa where it can be found in marshes, swamps, edges of lakes, and pasture land. They are often seen in villages and towns, and the bird is quite tamed. Often heard at daybreak and sunset, its entire plumage is olive-brown, with pale underparts, while the head and neck often have a metallic green sheen. It is a sociable bird, but unlike other ibises, it is a solitary nester.

There are many more species of ibises around the world, but today the focus is on the African species, and particularly the Sacred Ibis. Just to think of how much that bird was venerated in Ancient Egypt makes us wonder about its magnificence. It would not be a surprise if the hotel brand Ibis was inspired by this magnificent bird and all it encompassed in the Ancient world of Egyptians.

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